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A fountain pen is a stylish writing utensil that produces elegant handwriting on formal correspondence and invitations and makes for a lovely gift.
We researched the most popular fountain pens available online, evaluating ease of use, quality, and value. Our favorite, the Dryden Designs Fountain Pen, is a hand-assembled writing tool that comes with ink refills and a converter.
Here are the best fountain pens.
Best Overall: Dryden Designs Fountain Pen Medium Nib
Dryden Designs achieved the perfect combination of luxury and affordability with its Modern Classic Collection. For a reasonable price, this fountain pen glides across the page—no blotching, skipping or bleeding—while still looking stylish. It features a sleek metallic casing, available in seven different colors, and signature gold accents. It’s so eye-catching that you could use it simply as a showpiece. Of course, it’s the writing quality that makes Dryden our top choice. Dryden Modern Classic is one of the finest pens you can buy, fountain, or otherwise.
Dryden sends this pen in an attractive pouch, making it gift-ready, and if you’re not satisfied with the product they offer a lifetime money-back guarantee.
Best High-End: LAMY Studio Extra Fine Nib Fountain Pen
Founded in 1930, Lamy has long been one of the world’s most respected producers of writing instruments. They put so much care into the quality of their pens that the final step in their manufacturing process is to test every single one by hand. So if you’re willing to spend extra, the Lamy Studio Fountain Pen is one of the best on the market.
This pen can make the most agonizing writing tasks (rent checks, rent checks, rent checks) pleasurable—or, at least, not so agonizing. Even its physical description has the ring of luxury: black lacquer finish, high-gloss chrome grip, interchangeable silver steel nib. And according to users, the writing experience is butter smooth and gives rich, evenly distributed ink to every letter.
Best Mid-Range: LAMY Safari Fountain Pen
Lamy makes another appearance on our list with their Safari Fountain Pen. This product features the same name-brand craftsmanship as their Studio Pen but at a lower price. In fact, the Safari uses the same stainless steel nib as the Studio.
The primary differences between the two, however, are the Studio’s larger size, even weight distribution, and ergonomic cylindrical grip. Deciding between the Safari and the Studio comes down to whether you’re willing to sacrifice a few luxuries for a cheaper cost.
Lamy released the Safari in 1980, targeting younger buyers with its numerous color options, unique triangular grip, and signature metal clip. Think of it as a luxury car company making a vehicle specifically to compete with more affordable models.
One five-star reviewer online wrote, “I have a few fountain pens, some that cost 10x this much. I have two of these [Safari’s] now and find myself gravitating to using these more than the others.”
Best for Beginners: PILOT Metropolitan Collection Fountain Pen
Fountain pens write differently than your everyday ballpoint BIC’s, so it might be worth testing a cheaper, simpler version before investing in a pricy pen. For that, the Pilot Metropolitan is your guy.
While there are less expensive fountain pens on the market—Jinhao and Zebra are names you can turn to for the absolute cheapest fountain pens—the Pilot Metropolitan is our choice for beginners because its quality won’t leave you frustrated and wondering why someone would ever choose to write with anything other than a ballpoint. The Metropolitan is one of the most reviewed fountain pens online, receiving nearly universal praise for its dependability and ease of use.
“While these pens are inexpensive, they work very well and are comfortable to write with,” one reviewer wrote. “I now own five of these pens in various colors and nib widths.”
Best for Drawing: Plotube Wooden Pen Calligraphy Set
With their effortless flow and rich ink distribution, fountain pens are excellent for drawing and calligraphy, and artists out there will love Plotube’s Calligraphy Pen Set. It works for both new and experienced calligraphers, as well as those interested in drawing and sketching.
Plotube packs this set with the works: one rosewood fountain pen, 10 stainless steel nibs, one golden nib, a pen holder and a bottle of black ink. Packaged in an elegant gift box, Plotube makes a great present (even if it’s a present for yourself). Each item is handcrafted and covered under Plotube’s 100% money back guarantee.
Keep in mind that this pen must be dipped in ink before use, unlike most of today’s fountain pens, which typically contain an ink cartridge. For some, dipping the Plotube pen in a bottle of ink might only add to the experience, as it harkens back to earlier days, giving the writing experience a wonderful old-fashioned feel with modern smoothness.
Best for Lefties: Pelikan Pelikano Fountain Pen Left-Handed
Scissors. Can Openers. Middle school desks. Life can be hard for lefties. Thankfully, Pelikan keeps you in mind.
The Pelikan Pelikano Fountain Pen can be purchased with a special left-handed nib, designed to help southpaws from constantly adjusting their wrists to find the perfect writing angle or from smearing ink across the page while they write. The Pelikano comes in junior sizes too, which may provide greater control while writing.
Best Value: PILOT Varsity Disposable Fountain Pens
The Pilot Varsity is a dependable everyday fountain pen, and it comes at a bargain when purchased in packs. This pack includes seven disposable fountain pens in an assortment of vibrant colors. It makes a great gift for artists, children, and students who like color coding notes.
Some customers note that it doesn’t last as long as other products and that it can occasionally bleed, but overall the Varsity has received widespread acclaim, with most customers agreeing that it’s a wonderful pen at a wonderful price.
Best Novelty: AIVN Calligraphy Pen Set with Feather Quill
If you’re looking for a pen that thrusts you back into the Victorian Era, look no further than AIVN’s Calligraphy Pen Set with Feather Quill. There are many novelty quill pens on the market, but reviews indicate that most are simply that: novelty. They look great, but you can’t write with them. AIVN, on the other hand, handcrafts a feather pen that actually, you know, writes.
Along with the elegant and timeless feather, this set comes with 11 different-sized nibs, a gilt pen holder and a bottle of black ink. And it’s all wrapped up in a beautiful box, making it an excellent gift for artists, writers, history buffs, and more.
What to Look For in a Fountain Pen
As noted, fountain pens are sold at a range of price points. If you have not used a fountain pen before, you may wish to purchase a cheaper option to determine the size, weight, and style that most appeals to you before making an investment.
Whether you wish to purchase a more traditional fountain pen versus a novelty one is also a key decision. Novelty pens can make for great gifts should you wish to present your recipient with a piece that has extra personality. However, those working in more formal environments may prefer to go the traditional route.
Those who are right handed will be confronted with a large range of pens to choose from, whereas those who are left handed will want to take this into consideration when selecting a pen to ensure that writing with it is as comfortable as possible.
How do you use a fountain pen?
First, insert the cartridge into the pen. Then, ensure that you are holding it correctly, so that the tip of the pen is at a 45 degree angle to the paper. Keep your hand's pressure on the pen low while writing.
How do you clean a fountain pen?
You will want to clean the pen by taking the nib out, rinsing it, then soaking it fully and drying it before placing it back inside the pen. Note that drying may take a day's time.
How do fountain pens work?
Fountain pens work due to their cartridges, which hold ink that flows through the pen as one writes.
How do you fill a fountain pen?
Insert the smaller end of the ink cartridge into the pen; once it is pierced ink will begin to flow.
Why Trust The Spruce?
Sarah Lyon is a design and decor expert who has many years of experience writing about interiors and offers bespoke styling services.